Context: U.S has urged India to relax India’s ban on hydroxychloroquine tablets so that the drug can be used to treat America’s COVID-19 patients. 


  • A day earlier, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade had prohibited export of the anti-malarial drug, which the U.S considered as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus.
  • Brazil has also urged India to lift the ban on hydroxychloroquine as India is one of the global leaders in the production of the drug .

About Hydroxychloroquine:

  • It is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria in areas where malaria remains sensitive to chloroquine. 
  • This medication is also used, usually with other medications, to treat certain auto-immune diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis) when other medications have not worked or cannot be used. 
  • It is taken via the oral route.
  • It is sold under the brand name Plaquenil among others. 
  • It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system.
  • It is also being studied as an experimental treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Utility with respect to COVID 19

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic (preventive care) for asymptomatic healthcare workers and contacts of people who have been infected by the virus. 
    • The ICMR’s decision on wider use of the drug will depend on further research.
  • On a global level, a study by Chinese researchers, in February, for instance, showed that the drug speeded up the recovery of COVID-19 patients who had suffered pneumonia.
    • Experiments on the drug have also yielded promising results in France
    • Moreover some of the early naysayers of the drug, including the US Food and Drug Administration, have now come around to recommending its use in emergency situations. 
  • Hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 palliative, by all accounts, seems to be a work in progress. 

Way Ahead

  • In a world embroiled in a grim struggle against COVID-19, reports of the early success of the drug have generated hope  especially in the US, the country hit hardest by the pandemic. 
  • The US president’s request is reportedly on the table of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) that reviews, monitors and evaluates the country’s COVID-19 response activities. 
  • The GoM headed by Union Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh must take into account the interests of all stakeholders in the country before arriving at a decision on relaxing the export ban.
  • In such a situation, it is critical that India’s decision on the US request be an informed and considered one.



Source: Indiamart